“Crank that lantern,” he snapped, twisting Edmund to his feet. “Keep it bright, or I’ll skin you like a rabbit.” Edmund continued to crank the lantern as hard as he could, gritting his teeth through the pain of Mr. Shobbinton’s fingers in his scalp. He could feel the grip tighten as they slowly walked around the room, shining the light into every nook and cranny. Mr. Shobbinton poked every crevice, nudged every stone, and stamped on the floor just as hard as Edmund had, but he never spared a second glance at the seated skeleton and the small stone-like chest that sat at her feet.
“Well,” Mr. Shobbinton spat, after they had walked around the room for a second time. “It looks like there isn’t much of worth here, is there?” Edmund bit his tongue as he was twisted around so the monocle could stare him full in the face. “You wouldn’t happen to be hiding anything in your pockets from your old friend and mentor, would you?”
“No,” Edmund said, still cranking the lantern. Mr. Shobbinton’s eye twitched in the strange shadows cast by the orange light. For a moment they stared at each other, and then Mr. Shobbinton’s hand flashed like a bold of lightning, shoving Edmund’s coat aside, and yanking the folded stack of papers from his arm.
Edmund cried in protest as Mr. Shobbinton held him at arms length, quickly scanning the strange and exotic diagrams. He snorted, and tossed the papers to the floor, scattering them across the room.
“A budding artist?” he whispered, the wicked knife sliding into Edmund’s view. “And I had such high hopes for you too. You came from poverty, like me, but I should have known you’d end up just like them. My family struggled for every copper coin, but you had your fortune handed to you on a silver plate!”
“You’ll never get away with this,” Edmund said. He wasn’t exactly sure what Mr. Shobbinton was trying to get away with, but it somehow felt the right thing to say. The solicitor seemed to agree, as he nodded approvingly.
“Excellent,” he sneered. “You’re one ‘curses, foiled again’ from being a real Moulde. As to my chances for success, I think I can, as you say, ‘get away with it.'”
“You don’t have to kill me,” Edmund gasped, his eyes locked on the knife. Mr. Shobbinton laughed wickedly, shoving Edmund to the ground.
“Of course I don’t!” he sneered. “I don’t plan to! Your cousins are currently tripping all over themselves to deal with you; you are far more useful to me alive. At least, for the moment,” Mr. Shobbinton snickered, but there was no question as to whether or not he was amused. “It’s only fair, isn’t it? I taught you everything you know about money and the law, now you can teach me everything you know about the missing fortune of the Moulde Family.”
“I told you, there’s no money!” Edmund protested.
“I’m sure you’ll change your tune after a few days down here, with nothing but spiders and worms to eat.” Mr. Shobbinton gave a mocking tip of his hat, and turned with a flourish to run back up the stairs.